The U.S. Senate will try to rewrite the nation’s main education law by scrapping a requirement that students show progress in passing state standardized tests in reading and math or lose federal funding.
The proposed overhaul of the No Child Left Behind law would release all but the lowest-performing 5 percent of schools from the threat of federal sanctions, according to a draft of the bill released by Tom Harkin, the Iowa Democrat who chairs the Senate education committee. Harkin worked on the plan with Sen. Mike Enzi, a Wyoming Republican, making it a rare bipartisan effort in Washington, Harkin said in a conference call with reporters.
President Barack Obama, citing Congress’ inability to change the law, said last month he would let states sidestep No Child Left Behind through administrative waivers if they agreed to toughen academic standards and tie teacher evaluation to student achievement — provisions similar to those outlined in the Senate plan.
Changing the law was a campaign pledge for Obama, who said the law’s focus on standardized testing dumbed-down learning and labeled even strong schools as failing. •